Greater Lansing Network
Against War & Injustice
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 MARCH 20th EVENT NEWS

MARCH 20, 2004 NEWS FROM MARCH & RALLY
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" America, my wish today, this first day of spring, is for a seed to be planted in every child's heart, a seed that produces courage to walk unarmed and refuse to hate and kill.  A seed that will flower and bloom as wars and guns and hatred are buried forever."  Peggy Tuxen-Akers, Veteran

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Taking a Stand for Peace in Lansing

 Kathie Kuhn

On March 20th, over 550 people came together in Lansing -including some 200 from Detroit- to make a non-violent stand against war and occupation.  The event, a year to the day from the beginning of the last intensification of the 13 year long war against the people of Iraq, was in tandem with 100’s of other similar events taking place in over 50 countries and including at least 250 in the U.S. alone.  Over 100,000 people marched in New York City, spanning 45 blocks.  Organizing groups include ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism): www.internationalanswer.org, and the Greater Lansing Network Against War and Injustice (GLNAWI):www.peaceforiraq.org .

 

 The two marches in Lansing merged at the State Capitol: one, (Direct Action!) without a permit, that took over Michigan Avenue with about 110 people; and the other, (GLNAWI): a permitted march that stopped at the 9-11 memorial for a moment of silence, leaving a wreath in the shape of a peace symbol. Both marches included drumming, chants, and a joyful sense of strength and solidarity.  Speakers at the steps of the Capitol included Representative Reverend Michael Murphy, Abayomi Azikiwe: Michigan Emergency Commission Against War and Injustice (MECAWI)  in Detroit, Arnold Stieber: Veterans for Peace,  singer Pat Madden-Roth and representatives of Greater Lansing Youth For Peace and Justice,  Direct Action!, and GLNAWI, and myself alongside three amazing drummers from Sankofa Shule.  Energy and hopes remained high even through the brief but cold rain.

 

Following the rally, about 160 people walked the block to Lansing Community College to take part in a series of educational workshops.  Many, many topics were discussed including:  the USA Patriot Act, economic costs of war, effects of globalization, U.S. involvements in Haiti, Iraq, Palestine, Columbia, Afghanistan, Cuba, Korea & Vietnam, U.S. military recruitment of youth, women activists, U.S. weapons of mass destruction, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas ministerial meeting in Miami, resulting protests, and the chilling accounts of police violence that happened there. Children worked on music and creative art projects expressing visions of peace. The day ended with a group forum focused on state-wide organizing esp. in regards to the next presidential (s)election ( i.e. electronic voting) and the need for peaceful solutions to global conflicts.  A decision was made to claim the Mackinac Bridge annual walk/run on Labor Day as a ‘bridge over troubled waters’ peace event.

 

So what does it all mean?  Did George and friends notice the pleas for peace coming from around the world, take heart, and decide to lead this country to a place of healing and creation, vs. hurting and destruction?  To spend our resources on the needs of the people, rather than on corporate gains and the military industrial complex?  To decide that war really does cost too much, not only economically,  but in the immeasurable cost of the 10,000 deaths of Iraqi civilians in the last year… the nearing 600 American soldiers lost there…all the wounded…the loved ones left behind… the unborn victims of our depleted uranium (nuclear waste) ammunitions that remain radioactive for billions of years (www.cadu.org.uk) that our military has scattered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia… and that has also claimed the lives of  10,000-12,000 American Gulf War Veterans already, and landed 300,000 on disability? Stop building new nuclear bombs?  End 'star wars'?  Will Bush and company at the very least decide to stop cutting veteran’s benefits???  I admit I have my doubts.  However, my hopes rest more-so in the people, and not the people in power, anyway. Someone, somewhere said that you cannot have a war if the soldiers refuse to fight, and they are right. “If you have to hurt someone to solve the problem, than you are the problem.â€